Just a handful of fights into his UFC career, and Edmen Shahbazyan is in his first main event.
Of course, it wasn’t supposed to be. Not this weekend at UFC Vegas 5, anyway. But with Irene Aldana withdrawing from the event and her fight with Holly Holm being pushed back, Shahbazyan’s bout with Derek Brunson, originally the co-feature, got an upgrade.
Now, the 11-0 surging middleweight prospect will get the full star treatment. Albeit in a fight that will still only be three rounds.
“With the way that I’m going, I believe this is the right next step,” Shahbazyan said during Thursday’s media day. The next step in his career, a main event, and who knows what from there, if he’s successful.
As for that three-round main event, it wasn’t Shahbazyan’s call. “They offered us five. I was okay with five, but I guess something happened on the other side,” he suggested, pointing to Brunson’s team as the reason this weekend’s headliner will max out at 15 minutes.
When he was first introduced to the UFC, Shahbazyan was billed as a training partner and protege of former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. Rousey, as is well-known by now, manages Shahbazyan, who still trains at the Glendale Fighting Club.
“Just always general career advice, always positive advice,” Shahbazyan revealed when asked what sort of help Rousey has given him over the years. “She gives good tips, and just positive vibes and advice.”
Of course there’s a down side of being linked to a figure like Rousey: the questions about her downfall, and the controversy regarding GFC coach Edmund Tarverdyan. Shahbazyan, frankly, doesn’t care about any of that.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” he told Cageside Press during the UFC Vegas 5 media day. “Some people can talk about that, some people can talk about something else. It really doesn’t matter. I’m here to be me, be the best that I can be, and focus on my goal.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 5 media day press scrum with Edmen Shahbazyan above.